Puerto Rico DOL Issues Guidance on Law Prohibiting Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

On May 2019, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor (PRDOL) revised and updated its Protocol on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination pursuant to Act No. 22 of 2013 (Protocol). The new Protocol contains guidelines to assist private and public employers on how to interpret and implement Act No. 22, which generally prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in most public and private-sector workplaces.

Among other noteworthy changes, the updated Protocol includes new requirements on how to conduct internal investigations after employees allege sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Among these requirements, the Protocol establishes what documents must be generated during the investigation, what documents must be kept as part of the investigation record and how Human Resources should keep these files. The Protocol reaffirms the confidential nature of these records, and includes provisions protecting the employee from further harassment, harm or retaliation after filing an internal complaint.

In addition, the revised Protocol provides guidance as to the use of gender pronouns and record keeping in the context of gender identity. Such guidance discusses how employers should handle addressing employees after they make a gender identification request, when private employers are required to change internal records to reflect an employee’s gender identification request and how private employers can comply with such requests.

The 2019 Protocol includes employer obligations to conduct trainings for staff and to notify employees of Act No. 22’s rights and prohibitions. The Protocol also reiterates employer obligations to update internal manuals and policies to reflect Act No. 22’s protections.

The Protocol further expands on what constitutes illegal discrimination practices as well as lists what conduct the PRDOL considers harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Also noteworthy is the Protocol’s reaffirming public policy against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the workplace.

All in all, the updated Protocol provides further guidance to private employers on how to comply with Act No. 22’s anti-discrimination mandate.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.